Not sure really how to write this; we just took our firstborn to The University of Georgia yesterday……it’s been a dream of his for many years to attend there. He’s been watching and listening to Georgia football since he was a baby. Somehow, he fell in love with our alma mater. Go figure! Anyway, historically, Craven’s and Ridley’s are close knit families from within. Family is a big deal and always has been. That’s one of the things that attracted Kim and me to each other back in 1985; the closeness on both sides; a natural fit. Well, we knew this day would come. Let me say, first, that Jordan has been one of those kids that both adults and kids seem to love. He relates to both. He’s worked hard in his classes, given passion to everything he has done, and worked hard serving Jesus. He’s certainly not perfect but he has been a huge blessing to us. His whole family is very proud of him. In fact, we couldn’t be more proud of his acceptance into UGA, his future, and his person. We home-schooled all our kids until Jordan was in the 9th grade and given the fact that as a pastor for 20 years, most of the time, my office has been at home, we’ve been very closely knit together for 18 years, every day. I think that makes it harder too. What a great and blessed set of years we have had.
So, to say the least, I think it all hit us last night. We didn’t want to say goodbye to those years. It had come and gone all too quickly, as our parents told us it would. We had a great day yesterday; we got up and cleaned his car together, packed both cars, hung out and laughed, and by 1:00 p.m. were ready to ride. We had to get there before 5:00 so he could get his parking pass. Kim was trying hard; I could tell she was different- a measure of quietness and lots of love about her. There was a quiet transition developing of laying down the mantle of instruction to picking up a new mantle of serving. These last few weeks as a family, we’ve spent some good quality time together and intentionally carved out days to be together; it was so good!
We got his dorm room all set up, went back to Walmart, Canes for supper, and back to his room to finish a couple of things. It was pretty surreal; Kim and I walked those same halls and drove those same roads over 21 years ago. I could feel what I felt as a student and my parents taking me over to UGA, all over again, yet I was a parent this time and was feeling a totally different set of emotions. We dreaded the departing part, but here it came.
Hugs, kisses, and a quick and huge wave of emotion rushed over Kim and me; maybe Jordan, I couldn’t tell. We rushed into the car and he walked quickly back into his dorm….tears most of the way home….the loss of a son. Though, not really; only as we had all known it. Natural, yes, but now it’s time to grow up some, Shane & Kim.
On the other side of the state, in Franklin, TN, Pastor Steve Berger pastors some of our dear friends, the Barrera’s and the Shamblin’s. We found out the night before we left for Athens that the Bergers’ 19 year old son, Josiah, struck a tree in his car and was on life support at Vanderbilt University hospital. There was no brain activity. Oh my God in heaven, how sad! You can feel their pain…..the hope of the mystery of a miracle….the reasons they left him on life support with even a poor prognosis from doctors…..and the fact that he was going to be a freshman at The University of Tennessee this fall. It was a flooding day of mystery in our world!
Tears in both places………yet, our tears were tears of chapter loss, season loss, and see ya later loss. Tears in Franklin were tears of goodbye loss. Both hurt but both are not equal. God sees it all, knows it all, and has experienced both. God must have missed Jesus when they said, “See ya later.” But, when Jesus no longer had breath, the goodbye loss must have been overwhelming. The good news is, HE is and was God. He made all that happen and designed it that way. With all this in mind, “Greater Days Were Yet to Come.”
Some of these mysteries God never meant for us to understand, yet embrace. Remember, HE’s alive and well! That’s why we serve him, specifically. Other gods are dead……..ours is not! Therefore, today can be a day of thanksgiving instead of self-pity, even in see ya later loss and in goodbye loss. How, not quite sure……I think it’s just knowing that God and time will heal.
We must all keep our eyes on why we are all here in this life…….to gain as many relationships as we can, thereby influencing as many people as we can for Jesus Christ, while developing our God-given potential to it’s maximum. To watch your kids be and do some of the things and ways you have been and think is pretty wild………to feel their feelings and watch their actions in an almost vicarious way, is pretty mysterious.
Both losses are forged to charge ahead in life today, to finish the task He’s set before us, to squeeze the seconds out of the day, and look forward to the next time we all gather…..the even better news is, HE loves us all!
Our oldest son, Jordan, got the big and great news tonight that he was accepted into The University of Georgia for next fall!!!! Yeah boy for Jordie! This has been a dream of his a long time. Kim and I dressed him up when he was a baby in UGA clothes to watch the game while we listened to Larry Munson call the game on the radio. He’s worked hard for 12 years and is a Beta Club member, National Honor Society member, football letterman, True General Award recipient at his football banquet, and is a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society. He deserves this news! Wow! It’s bitter-sweet to Kim and me. We hate to think about him leaving home, but God has raised him up for something great! He’s an amazing and gifted young man. Congratulations Jordan! With or without this great news, YOU have made us proud!